Growing waist size
Industrial growth in the first half of the 20th century led to increase in urbanization, improvement in transportation and improved productivity which set a platform for innovation and policy reform. The railroads expanded and became the backbone of the transportation system. The US farmer started using mechanized farming to increase the farm productivity. The urban population grew from 25% in 1860 to 50% in 1916 and has been increasing since then. Today more than 80% of the US population lives in urban areas.
TV Dinner / Pre-Packaged Meal
In the 1950’s television sets started to get popular, especially in cities and more specifically, in affluent homes. The number of homes with TVs increased from 0.4 percent in 1948 to 55.7 percent in 1954 and to 83.2 percent four years later. Pre-packaged “TV dinners” were introduced in the 1950’s. TV dinners or pre-packaged meals are generally frozen or chilled. They require very little preparation time compared to a home-made meal cooked from scratch.
Research and Markets, a Dublin-based market research company, unveils new data, opportunities and forecasts in its latest report, “World Packaged Food – Market Opportunities and Forecasts, 2014 – 2020.”. The food market is expected to bring in revenue by 2020 of $3.03 trillion. Geographically, world packaged food market is dominated by the North American region, followed by Europe.
Dual Income Households
During World War Ⅱ, as men went to war, women started taking jobs that were traditionally done my men. About six million women entered the workforce. After the war, some women had to quit their jobs to take care of the returning veterans, but the percentage of women in the workforce continued the upward trend.
A major boost to women in the workforce came with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and also officially ended racial segregation in schools and public facilities. The act led to the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC gave opportunities to women for employment for jobs that were traditionally dominated by men.
As men and women both started earning, the household disposable income increased. With reliability of electricity, refrigeration and income, grew the need for convenience and luxury. Lack of time is a major barrier to preparing a meal at home, thus increasing the spending on pre-packaged food.
The Concern: Obesity
Affordability, Availability and Accessibility of food has improved drastically in the past few decades. This can be attributed to improvement in production techniques, transportation, storage, packaging and optimization of the distribution channel. While this addresses hunger, it does not address the nutritional aspect of food. Per the latest surveys conducted by NIH and CDC, the overweight and obese population has increased across the US.
Obesity Prevalence in 2015 Varies Across States and Territories
- No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.
- In 6 states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, and Utah) and the District of Columbia, obesity ranged from 20% to less than 25%.
- 19 states and Puerto Rico had a prevalence of obesity between 25% and less than 30%.
- Obesity prevalence in 21 states and Guam was 30% to less than 35%.
- Four states (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia) had an obesity prevalence of 35% or greater.
- The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (31.2%), followed by the Midwest (30.7%), the Northeast (26.4%), and the West (25.2%)